Santa Quits Smoking

posted by on 2012.11.13, under Healthy Families, Learning and Growing, Parenting

“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung…” I’ll let you take it from here. Twas the Night Before Christmas is one of the most quoted and most beloved poems in the English language and a Christmastime staple for many families.

But this year, a Canadian mom is changing the classic by eliminating the lines that refer to Santa smoking a pipe. Publisher Pamela McColl says that kids are impressionable (oh so true) and that exposure to smoking, especially from role models like Santa, could lead them to believe that smoking is OK – or at least OK to try. The edited version is available for purchase on Amazon.

There’s also a note from Santa included to explain the omission: “In this updated edition select lines have quietly slipped from the pages. Here at the North Pole we decided to leave all of that old tired business of smoking well behind us and I am pleased to report that we have never been healthier or happier. The reindeer asked that I confirm the fact that I have only ever worn fake fur out of respect for the endangered species that are in need of our protection, including my dear friends those arctic polar bears.”

Dallas Morning News health blogger Nancy Churnin says McColl has a point (and the literary honors to back it up). Others, such as the American Library Association, are crying censorship, comparing this publication to a recent modification of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that omits racially inappropriate language.

So what do you think? Is changing a classic a legitimate way to prevent kids from smoking? Is this a good step for 21st century parents? Will you buy this new edition?

And whether or not you agree with McColl, she has a point about kids and media. One good way to bring up smoking with your kids is to talk about examples of smoking you encounter in TV shows, books and movies. Point out what may be misleading in these depictions of smoking, like what effects of smoking you don’t see by movie’s end. Even pipe-smoking Santa could be a good conversation starter for your family.


I am aware that my stance may bring some negative backlash upon me but regardless I felt compelled to comment. This is ridiculous! I’m sorry, but if you are a parent that is this concerned with your child being impacted by the sight of Santa smoking a pipe in this book then why can’t YOU use it as a discussion point! Do you really need a brand new book to shield your child from the image and the words pertaining to the offensive behavior? I myself am NOT a smoker, and my husband isn’t either. I go out of my way to avoid smoking areas when I’m out with my girls because of the smell and second hand smoke concerns. Not, because I worry that if they see one person with a cigarette to their mouth they are going to be so intrigued that they will be compelled to try out the habit for themselves.
As parents aren’t we always looking for those “teachable” moments? This seems to me like it would make for a great one! After finishing the book, or maybe while on the “smoking” page the parent could point out the bad behavior, the health concerns etc. Why do we feel like it’s good or helpful to live in such an edited world? People smoke, people wear fur, people use negative word and profanity. That’s the world we live in! It’s not flawless but neither are the people populating it. Find the things you don’t like in the world and point them out to your kids. Explain why you find those things bothersome, troubling or wrong. Then teach them how and why not to behave in the same manner. If you raise a child that is so shielded from the world don’t expect that once they are truly thrust into it that the world won’t seem a terrifying, overwhelming and utterly horrifying place to be! Prepare your kids, arm them with knowledge, faith, morals and manners.
I’m sorry but it is my gut feeling that this woman saw a path to a quick profit. Why work hard to write an incredible children’s book when you can just tweak one that already exists, and has proven itself successful.
So feel free to smoke a pipe, wear some fur and use negative language in front of my girls. You will not impact them, but the example I make out of you later on in private will. I will parent my children and hope that the path I show them is the one they walk. They might stumble from my predetermined course, but I can assure you if they do I won’t be pointing my finger and placing blame on the likes of one Sinful Smoking Santa!

Shannon ( November 18, 2012 at 6:18 pm )

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